Westpac Altitude Rewards Mastercards to earn more points

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Westpac has announced changes to earn rates on the Platinum and Black Altitude Rewards Cards. The new ‘Accelerated Earn’ feature comes into effect on October 15. Until that time, the current earn rates will apply.

For once, they are actually positive changes – with some increased earn rates on selected spend categories. This includes the main airlines in Australia, together with a range of other merchants.

Accelerate Earn is only available on Mastercard spend. The earn rate on the companion American Express cards is not changing at this point.

The Changes

To begin with, it’s good news if you purchase airline tickets on your Mastercard.

If you have the Platinum Mastercard, spend on Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia will now bring 3.0 Altitude Points per dollar.

It’s even better for holders of the Black Mastercard. Not only is the earn rate for Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Austalia boosted to 6 Points per dollar, the boosted earn also extends to Emirates and Singapore Airlines.

In addition to those airline benefits, there are also increases at selected merchants.

For example, on the Platinum Mastercard, spend with Spotify Premium, Uber, Uber Eats. and Airbnb will now attract 2.0 Altitude Points per dollar.

In the case of Black Mastercard, you can add David Jones, Kmart, Myer, THE ICONIC to that list.

The changes to the earn rates on the Platinum and Black Mastercard are detailed on the Westpac website.

Westpac Altitude Rewards

Westpac Altitude Rewards is Westpac’s in house loyalty program for its range of Altitude credit cards.

It is quite similar to the other bank programs, although the value proposition may be different. Basically, if you hold a points-earning Altitude card, you can earn Altitude points while you spend. Once you have earned the points, you can transfer them to a range of frequent flyer partners.

One of the big selling points is its range of frequent flyer transfer partners. As such, this gives you some freedom in where you would like to send your points to. As a result of this, you can move points into different programs at different times.

You do have the choice of opting into the Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity programs. Once you have done this, your points are swept to your chosen program each month.

While they are options, in this article we will only consider the Westpac Altitude Rewards program.

Westpac Altitude Rewards Cards

Westpac offers both Platinum and Black Mastercards in the Altitude range.

It is also possible to have American Express Altitude cards. In a partnership between Westpac and American Express, the cards are actually issued and serviced by American Express. However, any altitude points you earn on by using your American Express Altitude card will be available in your normal Altitude account.

Earning Altitude Reward Points

It is possible to earn altitude points on most spend. There are some exceptions, such as payments to the ATO, so you so need to be a little careful in some cases.

Standard Points

Your points earning is affected by two factors. Firstly, whether you hold the Platinum or Black level of the cards. Secondly, there are differences in the earn rate between the Mastercard and the American Express card.

Generally, the American Express card will earn more points on a transaction. However, American Express has a lower acceptance rate that the Visa/Mastercard. The other issue is with surcharges, with some retailers surcharging American Express cards, while their surcharge on Visa/Mastercard may be lower, or not surcharged at all.

Having said that, the changes to the earn rates on Airline tickets could now swing things in favour of the Mastercard.

Platinum Cards

Altitude Earning Rates
Credit Card Earn Rate Where Cap
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card

Mastercard

3.0 per dollar On flights booked in Australia directly with Qantas, Jetstar, and Virgin Australia First $10,000  per month, then 1.0 per dollar
2.0 per dollar On Overseas Spend

Spend with Spotify Premium, Uber, Uber Eats. and Airbnb

1.0 per dollar All other eligible purchase
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card

American Express

3.0 per dollar On Overseas Spend
2.0 per dollar Domestic Spend
1.0 per dollar Eligible Government Spend

 

Black Cards

Altitude Earning Rates
Credit Card Earn Rate Where Cap
Westpac Altitude Black Card

Mastercard

6.0 per dollar On flights booked in Australia directly with Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines First $10,000  per month, then 1.0 per dollar
2.0 per dollar On David Jones, Kmart, Myer, THE ICONIC, Spotify Premium, Uber, Uber Eats and Airbnb
1.0 per dollar All other eligible purchase
Westpac Altitude Black Card

American Express

5.0 per dollar On Overseas Spend
3.0 per dollar Domestic Spend
1.0 per dollar Eligible Government Spend

 

Australian Tax Office Earn

As with many cards, the Australia Tax Office comes in for special attention. When paying the ATO by the Platinum or Black Mastercards there is no earning at all.

On the other hand, the companion American Express Altitude card offer points, but at reduced rates. For the American Express Altitude Platinum card, there is an earn of 1 Altitude Points per dollar. The American Express Altitude Black card earns a slightly higher 1.25 Altitude Points per dollar.

Redeeming Points

Altitude Rewards points can be redeemed through the Altitude store. It is possible to redeem items such as merchandise and gift vouchers.

One of the strengths of the Altitude program for the frequent flyer is the range of transfer partners. It is possible to transfer points from Altitude across to one of the Frequent Flyer programs, generally at a ratio of 3  Altitude points to 1 point in the partner program.

The following table shows the options and conversion rates that are available.

Altitude Frequent Flyer Program Transfer Rates
Frequent Flyer Program Conversion Rate
Air New Zealand Airpoints 180:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 3:1
Malaysia Airlines Enrich 3:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 3:1
Virgin Australia Velocity 3:1

 

Pros and Cons

The Altitude Rewards program offers cardholders a number of benefits. Firstly, there is the range of transfer partners available in the program. It is one of the more extensive ranges available in the various credit card rewards programs.

One thing to watch for in some airline programs is their policy on expiring points. For example, both Enrich and Krisflyer will expire points 3 years after they are added to the account.

With Altitude, you can accumulate points in the Westpac program and transfer when needed. As the Westpac program has no particular expiration on points, this can give time to accumulate enough points for an award.

While it may have a range of partners, there are sometimes better transfer rates around. For example, if you are collecting Velocity points, there are more rewarding options around. As such, there is a bit of a trade-off between flexibility and the overall points earning.

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